World Grand Prix: Bigger and better than ever
These five teams take the total number of countries represented in the annual meeting of the world’s top national teams to 30 since the competition was introduced in 1993. Making their comeback in 2014 are Canada (whose most recent appearance came in 2003), Peru (2011) and Korea (2012). They are joined by the same 20 teams who produced some dramatic matches in last year’s competition. It goes without saying that all six former winners are represented again this year: record winners, defending champions and Olympic champions Brazil (9 titles), USA (5), Russia (3), Cuba (2), the Netherlands (1) and China (1).
Last year Brazil triumphed with a flawless record of five wins and 15:0 sets in the final round of the Grand Prix. Olympic silver medalists the USA, who claimed a hat-trick of World Grand Prix titles between 2010 and 2012, are also among the favourites. The big final of the FIVB World Grand Prix will take place like last year in Tokyo, Japan – a fact that ought to please Olympic champions Brazil, who have won the tournament the last four times it has been played there (2005, 2008, 2009, 2013). The preliminary round will see the twelve highest-seeded teams play round-robin tournaments to determine which four countries will progress to the final round. They will be joined at the grand finale from August 20-24 by the host nation Japan and the winner of the Final Four (from August 15-17 in Poland) from pools J to O.
Excitement is guaranteed at the 22 tournaments around the world – from Italy and Peru to Hong Kong and Macau – from the first round on July 25 to the final match day on August 24. The competition also looks guaranteed to set new records in terms of global media coverage. In recent years, over 700 million households on six continents were able to watch the games. This figure is constantly increasing with 31 international broadcasters transmitting primary footage. This is particularly remarkable given the serious competition the competition has faced – including the Olympic Games and the European Football Championship. Interest on the FIVB Web TV platform in countries to which TV rights were not sold, also soared. The FIVB World Grand Prix is a bestseller, which combines great sport with a spectacular show every year.
When it comes to growth, the history of the Grand Prix is without doubt a success story. When the competition made its debut back in 1993, it featured only eight teams – as it did between 1995 and 2002. In 1994 and from 2003 to 2010 this number increased to twelve. Sixteen teams were involved in the 2011 and 2012 Grands Prix. 20 last year, and now 28. In 2014, it promises to be more exciting than ever: Drama – and a host of new records – are guaranteed.